Mac rallies to win Southern Open

Trailing 40-15 in the seventh game of the second set Friday, Mac Styslinger knew if he wanted to win the Southern Open he’d better step up his game.

“I just knew I had to get that game,” said Styslinger, age 14.

Dominic Cotrone of Bradenton, Fla., held a 4-2 advantage in the set and was serving his way to a 5-2 lead when Styslinger began to break down his serve. Styslinger went on to take the game and win the next three to win the set, 6-4, and the championship, 7-6, 6-4, at the Pelham Racquet Club.

“It gave me the momentum after being down 40-15. That really carried over into the last three games,” said Styslinger, an incoming freshman at Indian Springs School.

“He refused to miss, went back to his basics and kept his intensity up,” said Styslinger’s tennis coach, Jack Standifer of ACE Tennis Academy in Birmingham. “He didn’t let anything deter him from what his goal was.”

Styslinger, ranked No. 1 in Alabama and No. 6 in the Southeast, will have to sit out from tennis for his freshman year at Springs due to transfer rules, but looks forward to joining the team as a sophomore.

“They’ve had a good program historically,” Stylsinger said. “I hope to bring depth and a little youth because a lot of their players are graduating now.”

In addition to the singles’ win, he also took the doubles title on Thursday with partner Joshua Goodman of Weston, Fla. The pair beat Thai Kwiatkowski of Charlotte, N.C., and Spencer Mitchell of Stone Mountain, Ga., 6-2, 6-1.

Styslinger’s win June 23 in the second round of the Southern Open 14 boys’ singles moved him up one spot in the national rankings to No. 16. He stood a chance to move higher in this week’s rankings after winning the Southern Open and playing well to start the National Open in Little Rock, Ark.

Styslinger was in the quarterfinal Tuesday morning. Tuesday’s tournament results and national rankings were not available at press time.

In girls’ play, Ashleigh Antal of Hilton Head Island, S.C., defeated Clare Mendell of Clanton, Ga., for the girls’ singles championship, 7-5, 6-3. Antal teamed up with Stephanie Woods of Alpharetta, Ga., to win the doubles championship.